22/11/2017 Wednesday in Parliament


22/11/2017

Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 22 November, presented by Alicia McCarthy.


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to the programme

on the day the Chancellor

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delivers his budget,

with a pledge to try

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to help new home owners.

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For all first-time buyer purchases

up to £300,000 I am abolishing stamp

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duty altogether.

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But Jeremy Corbyn predicts misery

will continue for many.

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It is a record of failure with a

promise of more to come.

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Also on this programme,

MPs warn the UK could be facing

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an epidemic of opiod abuse.

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And, in the Lords, Peers demand

action on the plastic

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going into our seas.

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Can't we have a positive action to

cut down the number of plastic

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bottles, they are a disgrace.

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But, first, the Chancellor Philip

Hammond took the traditional photo

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call outside Number 11 on Wednesday

morning as he prepared

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to deliver his autumn budget.

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As is tradition, the Chancellor

was flanked by his junior ministers

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as he stepped into Downing Street

and held aloft the budget

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box, containing that

all important speech.

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After smiles and photos

it was into the official car

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for the short journey to the Commons

to unveil his plans.

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And so the nearly hour long speech,

in which the chancellor announced

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he was abolishing stamp duty

for first time buyers on properties

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worth up to £300,000 in England,

Wales and Northern Ireland.

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There were also announcements

on house building, the controversial

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new welfare payment

Universal Credit, and funding

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for England's NHS.

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But Philip Hammond began

with the preparations for Brexit.

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We have already invested almost £700

million in Brexit preparations.

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And today I am setting

aside over the next two

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years another £3 billion.

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And I stand ready to allocate

further sums if and when needed.

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But the budget he said

was about much more than Brexit.

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It was he insisted a budget

for the future, to prepare to meet

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the challenges ahead.

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A country fit for the future. I know

we will not build it overnight but

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we will lay the foundations. Mr

Deputy Speaker, I am being tempted

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with something more exotic but I

will stick with water. I took the

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precaution. I did take the

precaution of asking my right

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honourable friend to bring a packet

of cough sweets just in case.

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Conservative MPs roared,

but the next section of the speech

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was less light-hearted

as the Chancellor revealed

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figures from the Office

for Budget Responsibility predicting

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slower growth in coming years.

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And regrettably, our productivity

performance continues to disappoint.

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The old BR has assumed that each of

the last 16 physical events that

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productivity growth would return to

its pre-crisis trend of about 2% a

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year but it has remained stubbornly

flat. Today the revised down the

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outlook for productivity growth,

business investment and GDP growth

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across the forecast period.

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Moving on to specific announcements,

Philip Hammond said there'd be

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a rise in the personal allowance

on income tax to £11,850,

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a 28 pence a packet rise in the cost

of cigarettes and a freeze

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in most alcohol duties.

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In other measures, he'd look

at a tax on single use plastic

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items, put £540 million

into supporting the growth

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of electric cars, and give schools

and colleges £600 for each new pupil

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taking maths at A-level.

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And there'd be tweaks to the new

welfare benefit Universal Credit.

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MPs on all sides have warned

that the six week wait before

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new claimants receive their payments

was pushing people into

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debt and rent arrears.

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First, we will remove the seven-day

waiting period applied at the

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beginning of a benefit claim sole

entitlement will begin on the day of

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the claim. To provide greater

support during the waiting period we

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will change the advances system to

make sure any period that needs it

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can access a film on's payment

within five days of applying. We

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will make it possible to apply for

an advance online. We will extend

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the payment period for the dancers

from six months to 12 months, and

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any new Universal Credit claimant in

receipt of housing benefit at the

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time of the claim will continue to

receive that for a further two

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weeks.

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England's NHS has lobbied hard

for more money and Philip Hammond

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said he recognised the system

was under pressure.

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I am therefore exceptionally and it

said the spending review process

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making an additional commitment of

funding of £2.8 billion to the NHS

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in England.

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He also told MPs talks were under

way about a pay rise for nurses.

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But the surprise announcement came

at the end of the Speech.

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Philip Hammond said there'd be

£44 billion in overall government

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support for housing to meet target

of building 300,000 new homes a year

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by the middle of the next decade.

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With effect from today, for all

first-time buyer purchases up to

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£300,000, I am abolishing stamp duty

altogether.

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When the din had died down,

he said that would be a cut for 95%

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of all first time buyers who pay

stamp duty, though the measure

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doesn't apply in Scotland.

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Well, it's down to the Leader

of the Opposition, not

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the shadow chancellor,

to reply to the budget.

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With little time to absorb

the announcements it's seen

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as on of the toughest

Parliamentary occasions.

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Jeremy Corbyn said the test

of any budget was how it

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affected people's lives.

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A lot of people will be no better

off and the misery that many add-in

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will be continuing. Pay, Mr Speaker,

is now lower than it was in 2010 and

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wages are now falling again.

Economic growth in the first three

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quarters of this year is the lowest

since 2009 and the slowest of the

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major economies in the G-7. It is a

record of failure with a forecast of

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more to come.

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He argued schools in England

would be worse off,

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and the government had missed

the opportunity to act on capping

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credit card debt and boosting

social care funding.

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Jeremy Corbyn said over a million

older people weren't getting

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the care they needed and he reacted

angrily to a heckle

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from a Conservative MP.

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Over 6 billion will have been cut

from social care budgets by next

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March. I hope the honourable member

begins to understand what it is like

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to wait for social care, stuck in a

hospital bed, with other people

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having to give up the work to care

for them. The uncaring, uncouth

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attitude of certain members...

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And on housing Jeremy Corbyn

reckoned we'd heard it all before.

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The government promised 200,000

starter homes three years ago. Not a

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single one has yet been built in

those three years. We need a large

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scale publicly funded house-building

programme, not this government's

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accounting tricks and empty

promises. We back the abolition of

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stamp duty for first-time buyers

because it was another Labour policy

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in our manifesto in June, not a Tory

one.

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People he concluded had been let

down by a government that was weak

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and unstable and in need of change.

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The SNP Westminster group leader

was equally gloomy saying

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there'd been a "shredding"

of growth forecasts."

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And it's a threat to the wages, to

the living standards and to the job

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prospects are people up and down the

United Kingdom. Frankly, it is a

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government that should be ashamed of

itself.

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And he insisted Scotland

would be worse off.

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Before the winds of Brexit head is,

the starting position for millions

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of people is that by then we will

already have been struggling with

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nine years posterity. The cuts being

imposed on public services mean

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service delivery is impacted and

public service workers in particular

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are feeling the squeeze. This is a

budget that choose the Chancellor is

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either blind to what is going on or

he is behaving like a frightened

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rabbit caught in the headlights.

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Ian Blackford and debate

on the budget continues

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for another four days.

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Well, the big moment

on a Wednesday is usually

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Prime Minister's Questions.

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On Budget Day, though, it is merely

a curtain-raiser for the Chancellor.

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But despite second billing, PMQs did

deliver a surprise of its own -

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the Leader of the Opposition's six

questions are almost

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always a Brexit-free zone,

but not this time.

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Mr Speaker, the Irish Prime Minister

who has discussed Brexit with the

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British government says sometimes it

doesn't seem like they have got all

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this through. So can the Prime

Minister reassure him by clearly

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outlining the government's policy on

the Irish border?

We are very clear,

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first of all that in relation to the

movement of people the Common travel

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area will continue to operate as it

has done since 1923, and on trade

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and movement of goods across the

border we will not see a hard border

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being introduced. We have been very

clear.

Yesterday, the Foreign

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Secretary said there could be no

border, that would be unthinkable,

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and that may be but they have had 17

months to come up with an answer to

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this question and that is still no

answer to the question because they

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have not engaged with the

negotiations properly.

We have been

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engaged fully in the negotiations in

relation to Northern Ireland and

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other issues, and indeed significant

progress has been made, and that is

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why for example I have said that we

have got agreement on the operation

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of the Common travel area for the

future. He says we haven't put

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forward any ideas about the board

that aren't actually we published a

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paper in the summer about the

possible custom arrangements.

The

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EU's chief negotiator said this week

the UK financial sector will lose

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its current rights to trade with

Europe. It seems neither EU

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negotiators nor the government have

any idea where this is going. Last

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week the Brexit secretary said he

would guarantee free movement for

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bankers post Brexit. Are there any

other groups to whom the Prime

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Minister believes freedom of

movement should apply? Nurses,

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doctors, teachers, scientists,

agricultural workers, who?

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I'm very interested the honourable

gentleman has found that his

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appearances at prime ministers

questions have been going so well

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he's borrowed a question from the

leader of the Liberal Democrats

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which he asked me last week. Perhaps

the Leader of the Opposition should

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pay a little more attention to what

happens in Prime Minister 's

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questions. We have been absolutely

clear that we will be introducing

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new immigration laws and as we

introduce those we will take account

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of the needs of the petition economy

in doing so that is why my friend

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Mike the Home Secretary has asked

the migration advisory committee to

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advise those areas where we need to

pay attention to migration. We want

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to get on to deal with the question

of the future trading relationship

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that we have with the European Union

but we also... I am also optimistic

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about the opportunities that will be

available to this country and about

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the deal they can get from the

negotiations we are having. The

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honourable gentleman can't even

decide whether he wants to be in the

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single customs union or out of it,

he needs to get his act together.

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Isn't the truth this government has

no energy, no agreed plan and no

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strategy to deliver a good Brexiter

Britain?

I'm optimistic about our

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future. I'm optimistic about the

success we can make of Brexited. I'm

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optimistic about the well-paid jobs

that will be created. I'm optimistic

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about the homes we will build. That

is Conservatives building a Britain

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fit for the future.

Canny Brahman is

to tell the house how many jobs have

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been lost this week with the

departure of the European medicines

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authority and the European banking

authority from London?

We are seeing

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those particular two agencies leave

the United Kingdom and go elsewhere

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in the EU. When he talks about the

number of jobs being created we have

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seen under this government 3 million

jobs being created. That is a record

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I would've thought he would be to

welcome.

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You're watching Wednesday

in Parliament, with me,

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Alicia McCarthy.

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The UK could be facing

an "epidemic" of opiod abuse.

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That was the warning from an MP

following thousands of deaths

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in the United States linked

to the synthetic opiod, fentanyl,

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a painkiller many times

stronger then heroin.

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The threat was raised in a debate

in Westminster Hall.

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The epidemic of drug overdoses in

America is killing people at almost

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double the rate of both firearm and

motor vehicle related deaths.

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Between 1999 and 2015 it is

estimated that fentanyl and it's to

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River Teise have killed

approximately 300,000 people in the

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US during that time. These numbers

are of virtual biblical proportions.

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My concerns are... When the US

sneezes the UK catches a cold so I

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am concerned we may be on the brink

of a fentanyl outbreak here.

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But Mr Mackinlay opposed any

liberalisation of current drug laws.

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I feel that we should be upping our

game in three strands of work. That

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is education in schools, colleges

and universities. I'd like to see

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significantly increased sentences

for drug supply. And I feel that we

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should be giving some thought now,

as we cope or potentially have to

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cope with fentanyl and similar

lethal derivatives. Perhaps by

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creating a new class, a double-A

class of these really truly lethal

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drugs.

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Other speakers recognised

the threat, but a former

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Justice Minister said the so-called

war on drugs had been

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an unmitigated disaster.

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So, I say to my honourable friend,

instead of doubling down on a

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failing policy and demanding yet

more higher sentences for particular

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parts of the supply chain... The

failing policy, an example he gave,

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has led to the highest level of

opioid drug deaths since records

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began. We should be learning from

decriminalisation and public health

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approaches in other countries. In

Portugal for example where the

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possession of small amount of drugs

has been decriminalised since 2001,

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step well short of licensing and

regulation, usage rates are amongst

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the lowest in Europe.

Let's treat it

as a health issue not a criminal

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justice issue. Let's accept across

our country the principle of safer

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drug consumption rooms. They are

already saving lives in eight

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European countries. In Canada,

Australia it is endorsed by the BMA.

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No one dies of an overdose in a drug

consumption room. Let's accept that

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evidence and apply it in this

country before we continue the

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carnage of loss of life that we are

experiencing now.

Regulation doesn't

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mean a free for all where drugs are

available. Current laws have already

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achieved via. We have to take the

control away from the Chronicle

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fraternity. The war on drugs has

killed innocent and made the guilty

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rich. It has destroyed communities

and compound of the difficulties

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faced in addressing addiction

problems. The UK government spends

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1.6 alien pounds a year and drug law

enforcement and as was pointed out

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earlier and even the government know

their drug policy has failed.

The

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minister cannot come before us today

and honestly believe his government

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are improving services and seriously

addressing this issue when they are

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overseeing such a significant cuts

that are rolling back provision and

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addiction services.

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Replying the minister said

an ambitious drugs strategy had been

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unveiled earlier this year.

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Deaths linked to fentanyl

contaminated heroin have been seen

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in parts of the UK and he gave us a

graphic illustration of the impact

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in certain parts of the US which I

agree with him is extremely

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worrying. These underline the

importance of vigilance and strong

0:18:330:18:36

enforcement action by the police and

National Crime Agency as well as

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accessible treatment and the

availability of life-saving

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treatments.

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Philip Dunne.

0:18:430:18:44

Five people with disabilities

and long-term illnesses have been

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sharing the difficulties they've

experienced when

0:18:460:18:47

applying for benefits.

0:18:470:18:49

The Work and Pensions Committee

is examining the assessment process

0:18:490:18:52

for Employment and Support Allowance

and Personal Independence Payments,

0:18:520:18:56

for people with disabilities

and long-term illnesses.

0:18:560:19:04

I got run over by a car and had

major nerve damage in my left leg.

0:19:040:19:09

It has caused me a disability. I

have got a fused hip. I went to a

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tribunal, was only scored seven

points, and then I got reassessed

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within three weeks and was granted

PIP.

0:19:200:19:21

Amanda Browning was diagnosed with

chronic fatigue syndrome in 2008.

0:19:210:19:26

When I first applied for benefits,

it was 2009 and I've had half a

0:19:260:19:33

dozen plus assessments. My last two

have been very difficult. ESA

0:19:330:19:40

assessment I had in 2016 initially I

was taken off benefits. And I won my

0:19:400:19:51

appeal in 2017 and put back on.

I've

got multiple sclerosis. I've had it

0:19:510:19:56

since 1993. And I was receiving

Disability Living Allowance at the

0:19:560:20:03

higher rate for both.

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She was reassessed when DLA

was replaced by PIP.

0:20:040:20:09

I received high rate mobility

standard rate care.

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Denise Martin hasn't

worked since 2011.

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I also, like my colleague, moved

over from DLA to PIP last year and I

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lost my mobility element. I didn't

say sorry I've got fibromyalgia,

0:20:250:20:32

bipolar and spinal issues.

And the

childhood Cancer survivor with dual

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sensory loss. I previously lived in

Northern Ireland for many years. And

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I didn't have any difficulties with

my benefits there. I received DLA

0:20:460:20:51

and ESA. When I moved over here, I

applied for ESA and PIPs. I applied

0:20:510:21:00

for both of those in January of this

year. And the process for both of

0:21:000:21:07

them was extremely frustrating and

very disappointing, a lot of

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problems, different problems with

both of them.

0:21:110:21:12

Then it was the turn of MPs

to introduce themselves.

0:21:120:21:16

Frank Field.

I'm really sorry for

being late, the trains were awful.

0:21:160:21:24

Can we accept Heidi's apology

because if she was sent to a

0:21:240:21:28

Jobcentre... She would have been

sanctioned.

0:21:280:21:32

Turning to the application

process, Frank Field asked

0:21:320:21:34

about filling the forms in.

0:21:340:21:38

How many of you sought help and what

sort of help did you get?

I sought

0:21:380:21:43

help. I looked at it and cried. It

was so daunting to be frightened

0:21:430:21:50

about what to put down.

0:21:500:21:51

After the application

comes the assessment.

0:21:510:21:52

Natalie McGinn sid she was

"absolutely appalled"

0:21:520:21:54

by her PIP assessor.

0:21:540:21:59

It was very, very obvious to me that

the assessor had no deaf awareness.

0:21:590:22:07

She didn't strike me as being very

professional and having very good

0:22:070:22:12

disability awareness. She didn't

seem to be very understanding or

0:22:120:22:17

experienced of the difficulties that

I had.

The problems I've had with

0:22:170:22:22

ESA, she was always smiling, she was

almost like a smiling assassin. She

0:22:220:22:27

was saying I was here to help you,

to do this and do that. I was pushed

0:22:270:22:37

into the examination room in a

wheelchair. She then said I could

0:22:370:22:40

walk 50 metres.

I endeavoured to

work most of my life. This isn't a

0:22:400:22:50

choice that we make easily. It is

all stacked against us, you know?

0:22:500:22:58

And predominantly I've a mental

illness that affects me quite

0:22:580:23:00

severely. It's really, really tough.

0:23:000:23:04

In his budget the Chancellor said

he and the Environment Secretary,

0:23:040:23:07

Michael Gove would look at how

the taxes and charges could be used

0:23:070:23:10

to reduce plastic waste.

0:23:100:23:11

It follows the introduction of a 5p

charge on single use carrier bags,

0:23:110:23:15

which is credited with driving down

use by 85%.

0:23:150:23:20

Now there are calls to bring

in a levy on plastic drinks bottles

0:23:200:23:23

and disposable coffee cups.

0:23:230:23:27

In the Lords, Peers reckoned that

couldn't come too soon.

0:23:270:23:36

Did you see the alarming findings of

the BBC's programme into the

0:23:360:23:41

disposable plastics and the effects

described in the teller? Blue planet

0:23:410:23:47

programme on marine life? What

advice is the government giving to

0:23:470:23:50

local authorities and others to deal

more creatively with the disposable

0:23:500:23:55

of plastics and the replacement of

plastics by materials that can be

0:23:550:24:00

recycled more easily?

My Lords, I

didn't have the privilege of seeing

0:24:000:24:05

that particular programme although I

hear it was extremely good so I

0:24:050:24:09

regret not seeing it. The noble Lord

is right to focus attention on some

0:24:090:24:13

of the challenges that are being

faced. We are improving our position

0:24:130:24:17

as a nation. There is much to do. We

are in favour of upping the targets

0:24:170:24:21

that are being looked at. And not

yet announced to what that will be,

0:24:210:24:28

that improvement. 60% is the target

but that will be upped. He's right

0:24:280:24:32

about the problem with marine

challenges which is something we are

0:24:320:24:37

looking at and also black plastic

two which is a particular problem

0:24:370:24:40

which we have a working group

looking at.

Could the Minister say

0:24:400:24:44

something about the millions of

plastic bottles that can't be

0:24:440:24:47

recycled and are being put into

waste? Can't we have positive action

0:24:470:24:50

to cut down the number of plastic

bottles? They are a disgrace.

The

0:24:500:24:57

noble Lord will be aware of the

Chancellor has announced we will be

0:24:570:25:02

looking at how we can tackle the

particular problem perhaps through

0:25:020:25:06

taxation in relation to single use

plastics. In relation to bottles

0:25:060:25:10

come there is a challenge there. We

beat ourselves up to much. In 2000,

0:25:100:25:16

13,000 tonnes of plastic wattles

were recycled. In 2016, that was

0:25:160:25:23

343,000 tonnes. There is much to do

but we are on track my Lords.

0:25:230:25:26

And that's it from me for now,

but do join me at the same time

0:25:260:25:30

tomorrow for another round up

of the day at Westminster as that

0:25:300:25:33

budget debate continues,

but for now from me, goodbye.

0:25:330:25:43

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